The children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me just one lot and one part for an inheritance since I am a numerous people because Yahweh has blessed me so far?” Bible see other translations

“Why have you given me just one lot.” Joseph got only one lot (Josh. 16:1), but it was huge and included territory on both sides of the Jordan River. Furthermore, it was divided into two parts, one for Ephraim (Josh. 16:5-10), and one for Manasseh (Josh. 17:1-13). It was called one lot only to emphasize that “Joseph” was the original child of Jacob, while Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons, were Jacob’s grandchildren. The huge area given by Yahweh to Ephraim and Manasseh was bigger than many of the other tribal inheritances put together. In fact, if the inheritances of Dan, Benjamin, Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, and Reuben were put together, they would not be quite as big as what “Joseph” got. This puts what the people of Ephraim and Manasseh said to Joshua in perspective. They did not need more land., they needed to trust God and conquer the inheritance God had given them. The complaint of Ephraim and Manasseh is even more grievous when we pay attention to the land areas that they inherited. Almost all of Ephraim was only a day’s travel to Jerusalem, making it easy for the Ephraimites to get to the feasts that were held close to their territory at the time of Joshua and would still be close when David conquered Jerusalem. For its part, Manasseh inherited land both on the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and the very fertile Jezreel Valley as well. Neither Ephraim nor Manasseh had a reason to complain, and the fact they did highlights the fact that people who are complainers complain, even when there is really nothing to complain about. Negative people are negative, and negative people are not changed by others giving in to them and giving them what they seem to want. They will just continue to complain, but about other things. The believer’s responsibility is to “do all things without grumbling or arguing” (Phil. 2:14) and “be thankful” (Col. 3:15).

It is a valuable lesson to see how Joshua handled the complaining descendants of Joseph. He did not give in to them or acknowledge that they needed more land (another lot). Instead, he told them to clear the mountainous land they had and also to drive the Canaanites out of the good land, the valleys and fertile areas that they lived in. In other words, quit complaining and take what God has given you. Don’t ask for more land when you refuse to obey God and take advantage of what He has given you (Josh. 17:17-18).

Commentary for: Joshua 17:14